Are The Race Programmers Allowed To Exclude The Allowance Is Another Important Question Which Has Arisen?

The Equus Awards Committee have recognised the importance of the popular vote and this season the public will have 33% of the say in the awards’ outcome.

Likewise, one of SA Racing’s voices of reason, Jay August, has called for a rescission in the alterations to the weight rule for a number of reasons.

He said, “It is sad that Rachel has become the object of this discussion. She is a young person on the initial path of a successful career and should not be co-opted as the poster-person when determining what the best course of action is. The issue affects all females who will come after her and the jockeys, both male and female, who will compete against her in the future.

It is therefore not simply a decision on what is best for Rachel, and one hopes that this was not a primary consideration in the decision.

Rachel’s popularity was obtained not through an unfair advantage but through fair competition against other males and against unfavourable odds.

That attests adequately to her personal and mental strength, and to her ability as a jockey.

The NHA owes the industry and the public a full explanation on why this decision was reached, what data and input were consulted, and what process was followed in reaching the conclusion.

Whether that would suffice to explain what appears a hasty and possibly insensitive decision is debatable.

The NHA board should immediately rescind this decision, request wider input from the industry, consider divergent opinion, and release a considered and reasoned view on the matter at a to-be-decided future date.

The NHA board has enough legal eagles who I would hope would work pro bono as their contribution to a logical and rational debate, and conclusion.”

August went on to question whether racing programmers will be allowed to exclude the allowance if they deem that the correct course of action.

He said from an initial reading of the rule on its own he believed the latter would be at liberty to do so, but admitted he would have to read the wider rules before ascertaining whether they are precluded from doing so. 

Picture: British sensation Hollie Doyle rode 172 winners in Britain last year, the third most behind flat champion jockey Oisin Murphy and her now husband Tom Marquand. In 2020 she was crowned the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year, while she also took third place – behind Formula One ace Lewis Hamilton and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson – in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.  That was after finishing fourth in the British Flat Jockeys Championship, which only includes the turf season results between March and November. She became the first female to ride a European Classic winner last month when winning the French Oaks at Chantilly. Ironically, France is one of the countries that gives female riders a weight allowance, although the allowance is not allowed in Group races. Doyle currently lies second in the British Flat Jockeys Championship with 50 winners, three clear of her husband, although she is 29 behind the runaway leader William Buick.  

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